Behind the Numbers: Measuring Up

That's the way the cookie crumbles. Or so it seems. According to the Web Marketing Confidence Survey by WebTrends, only 5 percent of business professionals surveyed felt very confident about the performance measurements they were receiving on their Internet advertising strategies. One fourth of the respondents felt they were "flying blind," two in five were fairly confident, and another fourth were only moderately confident. And these were producers who purport to be shifting ad budgets from traditional media to the Internet because "...the effectiveness of online ads can be better measured than print, radio, or television ads."

Marketers identify other reasons to do Internet marketing in the chart at right. By one measure, says WebTrends, predictable metrics based on the anticipated value of "cookies," are more and more suspect because of blocking by third parties, security software, browsers, and Intranet restrictions. And more than half of the respondents are only looking at click-through rates or nothing at all, while 20 percent track unique visitors.

But these may not be the optimum business performance indicators in today's market. In fact, online marketers today are employing many more sophisticated performance measures, including search engine click stream data, indirect response/view-throughs, and rich media interactions, according to DoubleClick. Their "Decade in Online Advertising" reports that online advertisers are coming to recognize that Internet measurement extends far beyond click and conversion tracking. And, as integrated campaigns provide advertisers more leverage, measurement strategies will differ by medium.

The trick now, though, is knowing what to measure and when. However, no less a sage than Albert Einstein concludes:"Not everything that can be counted, counts. And not everything that counts can be counted."

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